It is written:
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)
Let us now turn our attention to examining Calvinism. Do the teachings of John Calvin and his Gnostic belief in fate adhere to the Word of God?
The first primary doctrine of Calvinism is known as “total hereditary depravity” (or total depravity among some Calvinists). The phrase “original sin” is also related to total depravity.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (a standard Calvinist creed) helps define the terms of our study:
“First, by reason of original sin, which (beside the guilt that makes us liable to everlasting damnation) is the seed of all other sins, hath depraved and poisoned all the faculties and powers of soul and body, doth defile our best actions, and (were it not restrained, or our hearts renewed by grace) would break forth into innumerable transgressions, and greatest rebellions against the Lord that ever were committed by the vilest of the sons of men…” (The Westminster Assembly, Edited by C. Matthew McMahon and Therese B. McMahon, The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith With Scripture Proofs and Texts from the 1611 King James Bible, and all Subordinate Documents Included, 15539-15543 (Kindle Edition); Crossville, TN: Puritan Publishing).
“Question 25: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell? Answer: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin,[ a] the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually;[ b] which is commonly called Original Sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.” (The Westminster Assembly, Edited by C. Matthew McMahon and Therese B. McMahon, The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith With Scripture Proofs and Texts from the 1611 King James Bible, and all Subordinate Documents Included, 6333-6340 (Kindle Edition); Crossville, TN: Puritan Publishing).
So, the notion of total depravity may be summed up in this way.
First, each person that is born into the world has inherited the sin of Adam. They are recipients of his sin and of his guilt before God. As a result of this, each person is born separated from God and as an enemy of Him. This is because every person sinned “in Adam” since he is our first human father, and God holds all of his descendants guilty for his sin.
Second, as a consequence of Adam’s sin, every person is born totally depraved. The word “depraved” means “immoral, wicked.” So Calvin and his followers (in perfect harmony with Gnosticism) teach that every person is wicked in body and spirit. As such, no person is able to do anything good. No one can seek after God. Everyone is utterly wicked and condemned before Almighty God.
Third, according to Calvin and his followers, each person who is not one of “the elect” will be eternally separated from God, even infants. Calvin explicitly declared that infants will be consigned to Hell, as have many of his disciples. We will carefully study this in detail in future lessons.
For now, we need to turn our attention to the Scriptures and see if they teach Calvin’s doctrine of total hereditary depravity. The Westminster Confession of Faith lists the following Scriptures which it claims teach the doctrine: Psalm 51:5; Job 14:4; 15:14; John 3:6; Romans 5:12, 19; 3:10-19; 5:6; 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:1-3; Genesis 6:5; James 1:14-15; Matthew 15:19.
Let us start with the Old Testament passages, and determine if they teach that mankind is totally depraved.